The Malaysian ship Dayang Topaz was reported to have crashed into the beramB oil platform after its anchor cable broke in the early hours of Tuesday. Initial reports claimed the ship had sank 7.7 nautical miles off the coast of Kuala Baram. It comes after China has been revealed to have sent fishing boats to disputed waters in secret, and after Beijing lashed out at Malaysia for capturing Chinese fishermen who crossed into their waters.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) chief Mohamad Zubil Mat Som issued a statement detailing how the crew members of the Dayang Topaz collided with the platform.
He reported the Dayang Topaz dragged anchor in stormy weather, which caused it to drift into the oil platform.
Of the 186 crew members aboard the ship, 125 had jumped into the water, with one drowning.
Another crew member died later on, with their cause of death unknown, and four personnel went missing after leaping into the ocean.
A search was conducted by Malaysian rescue forces, which found four missing crew members at 4:30 GMT.
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Video from the ship showed it taking on huge waves of water after the crash.
Photos of the oil platform showed platforms broken after the collision, with beams holding it up knocked loose.
Of the 186 aboard the Dayang Topaz, 62 remained on the ship with the others fleeing.
Social media pictures showed the remaining members on a life raft, having been rescued.
The ship crash followed reports Chinese has spent months deep in contested areas of the South China Sea.
Satellite images show Chinese vessels have been spotted at the Scarborough Shoal, off the Philippines, for five months.
They have also been sighted at Vanguard Bank, to the south of Vietnam, for three months and at the Union Banks, where China and Vietnam have outposts, for seven months.
Chinese militia vessels have been seen accompanying the fishing boats, in what the US regards as bullying for China’s Indo-Pacific neighbours.
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Beijing has also recently lashed out at Malaysia for detaining Chinese nationals who trespassed into the country’s waters.
Earlier in October Malaysia’s maritime officials reported they had taken 60 Chinese nationals and six Chinese-registered fishing vessels.
Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said: “The Chinese side has asked the Malaysian side to carry out a fair investigation in accordance with the law, ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the involved Chinese citizens and keep us updated with the latest developments.”
Malaysia has also reported a total of 89 Chinese intrusions into its waters in the South China Sea between 2016 and 2019.
Tensions in the South China Sea have also been rising between Taiwan and China, over fears of an all-out conflict between the two countries.
Taiwan agreed to pay the US $1.8 billion for three weapons systems to counter Chinese military pressure on the country, but have stressed they are not looking for war.
Mr Lijian announced yesterday China will sanction US companies involved in the arms sale.
He added: “We will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty and security interests.”